Enjoy strong rewards on flights.
There’s an airline credit card out there for every type of traveler. To help you determine which card is right for you, we assembled our top picks.
Our pick for travel rewards
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Compare airline credit cards
Many airlines offer cobranded credit cards with airline-specific perks. If you fly with different carriers, you might like a general travel card instead.
Best airline credit cards
Our list starts with a general travel card and is followed by cobranded products for top US airlines. Check out the bottom of the guide for more cards from other airlines.
A quick look at the best airline credit cards
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for airline rewards and transferable airline points
- Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express: Best for Delta
- United℠ Explorer Card: Best for United
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®: Best for American Airlines
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best for Southwest
Best for airline rewards and transferable airline points: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards
You can transfer points to select airline and hotel partners with Amex’s Membership Rewards and Chase’s Ultimate Rewards.
Amex has an edge in international airline partners, which makes it the favorite in our book. But look at the lists of partners for yourself and see what works for you. Chase lets you transfer points to Southwest and World of Hyatt, two high-value options that Amex doesn’t work with.
Best for Delta: Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
Best for United: United℠ Explorer Card
Best for American Airlines: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
Best for Southwest: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Best for airline points and transferable airline points. We looked for the card that offers the highest rewards rate on flight purchases. Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards are two of the best rewards programs, and we gave the edge to the former because of its wider array of valuable airline partners.
- Best for Delta. We picked the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express because it adds much more value on top of lower-tier Delta cards versus other premium airline cards. One key factor was the annual companion certificate, which many competing cards don’t offer.
- Best for United. While the airline’s premium card can easily be worth its annual fee, we think the mid-tier option is superior. The latter offers a good balance of benefits and value you won’t find with mid-tier cards from other airlines. And United’s premium card doesn’t offer an annual companion pass like you’ll find with Delta’s.
- Best for American Airlines. Like with our choice for United, we picked the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® because we believe it offers the most value for its price. The airline’s premium card can be valuable, but it doesn’t offer a star benefit on par with that of the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express.
- Best for Southwest. We picked the Southwest card with the most overall value. By our calculations, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card can pay for itself if you leverage its travel credits and Upgraded Boarding reimbursements.
Credit cards from your favorite airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite Mastercard®
- JetBlue Plus Card
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card
- Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®
- Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®
- SKYPASS Select Visa Signature® Card
- AeroMexico Visa® Secured Card
How to choose an airline credit card
- Decide if you want a general or cobranded card.
A general card can be effective if you fly with different airlines. Depending on the provider, you may be able to transfer your points or miles to partner airlines. This gives you a lot of flexibility you wouldn’t get with a cobranded card.
If you’re loyal to a certain airline, you might like a cobranded card. You probably shouldn’t get the card for its rewards, as you’ll often find stronger points or miles from a general card. But the cobranded product might offer airline-specific perks such as priority boarding, free checked baggage and access to the airline’s lounges.
- Think about how much you want to pay.
Airline credit cards usually fall into three general price points: $0, $99 or $450 a year.
A no-annual-fee cobranded card usually offers limited airline perks — for example, savings on inflight purchases. The mid-tier card typically offers a few more benefits, such as priority boarding and checked baggage. The $450-a-year card may offer airport-lounge access, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit or a companion pass.
If you can forego airline benefits, you might like a general travel card with no annual fee. You’ll find several options with great rewards.
- Apply for the card.
You’ll need information like your full name, contact details, Social Security number, date of birth, gross annual income and employment information.
- Wait for your card.
Many travel-card providers will give you a decision on your application immediately. If a provider needs to review your application manually, it may take a few days to a few weeks to hear back.
If you’re approved, look for your card in the mail within seven to 10 days.
Read more about airline credit cards
If you want to earn flexible points or miles on flights, consider a general travel credit card. If you’re loyal to a certain airline, you might like a cobranded card.
Not sure if an airline card is right for you? Check out our guide to travel credit cards for more options.